Lens -Ben Sheffer

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Lens -Ben Sheffer

Post by Ivan the Wizard on Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:41 pm

A short story that I submitted in 11th Grade. 2614 words.


I built the lens. The motherboard strapped to my arm is the beginning; sensors, and the like. That was back when my computer was a joke. A toy that I played with when I was bored. Soon though, play turned to ambition. I had only ever used what I was given. I decided to create pressure sensitive cables. I attached them to my fingers, and with whimsical-looking hand waves, I could control my computer.
That was about the time that I invested in a monitor. Four square inches, it wore like a watch. Bending my index finger made it show the time and date; bending my middle finger let me shuffle through music, e-mails, and texts. When I bent my last two fingers, it allowed me to type.
Every day after school, I’ve improved it. From refining the tensions in my finger-cables to tidying up the wires running up and down my right arm, I’ve built the lens.
I’ve considered putting a digital assistant on it, but that’s still just a dream. Even if artificial intelligence existed, it would never fit on a thirty-dollar computer designed to be a plaything. Despite my failure in that sense, I’ve built countless attachments. With the flick of a finger, I can turn out the lights. I’ve experimented a little with electrical discharge; just so I could shock my brother from time to time. It isn’t dangerous, of course.
I’m working on a pair of glasses that I can project text onto when I hear a noise. I stop typing. Dad must still be up. I bring my computer over to my bed so that when he walks by, I can pretend that I’m asleep. Lately, he’s been trying to enforce a curfew. He’s fine with me working on the lens during the day, but he says that I ‘need’ sleep. I wonder if there’s a way to program my mind to sleep while I’m awake. It sounds impossible, but when I become a neuroscientist/ programmer/genius, I’ll find a way. For now though, it’s way past midnight, and some dream-time is overdue…
Another noise in the kitchen. I try to ignore it, but then the door to Dad’s room opens. How did he cross the house so fast? “Josephine? Are you still awake?”
I softly close my laptop and hide it under the covers. He just thinks that I made the noise. My brother Drew’s probably the one in the kitchen then.
Dad walks off to go investigate. I start to relax, pulling my laptop out again. I disconnect the lens-motherboard from it and lightly get out of bed. I wire everything up from my fingertips to my new glasses. The moment of truth. I plug in. I flex my fingers, and the familiar sensations that accompany the boot-up process initiate. Almost an inch in front of my face, some blurry lines appear—presumably the lines of code that I plugged in just before disconnecting. It works, but I’ll have to refine the image.
I unplug. The lens can last over an hour on its reserve battery, so the blurry display stays up. I sigh in relief. That display had taken the better part of the last twenty-four hours. My finger is on the off switch when I hear a gunshot. A moment later, I hear dad shout.
Silence. What do I do? I decide that I might as well investigate. If it ended up being nothing, I could always tell Dad that a loud noise woke me up. As an after-thought, I grab my shock-attachment. It wouldn’t do much good if it ended up being something, but it’s still comforting to have it. I attach the shock wire to my lead tension cord and walk out of my room.
I look into the kitchen. No sign of Dad or of Drew. Steps. In the living room.
I peek around the corner. My dad’s silhouette is kneeling on the ground. He looks up.
“Dad? What was that noise?”
“Er…well, it’s nothing. Go back to bed.” He’s holding a large sack. I look around—our TV’s been taken off the wall and, and it’s lying on the floor. Our clock is missing from the mantle.
“That’s not Dad’s voice.” I say. I contract my middle finger—the way to signal to the lens that I’m going to want it to shock someone.
“Well, I…um, have a cold.”
He has a gun in his hand. He’s looking at the ground…Oh no…I look down, and I see my dad. Blood. He isn’t moving, but it looks like he’s breathing. He groans.
“Look, I…” The man says. “It isn’t what it looks like.”
I should be running, or fighting, my mind tells me. This…he…
I look at the man who shot my father. I look back at my father.
The robber steps over Dad’s body, towards me. I try to stop him, or stun him with the lens, but I just keep shaking my head at Dad’s body.
Even as the man holds a cloth to my face, I stare at my dying father. “Look kid, it’s nothing personal…” He says as I drift off.

My wrist vibrates. Low power. I look around. Where am I? A small room. It smells…odd. I stand up. There isn’t a window, only a lamp. The door is locked. A voice is on the other side.
That’s the voice of the man who… I remember what had happened. I clench up, feeling the heartache I was deprived of in my unconsciousness. I grab for my phone, but it isn’t there. In my other pocket, the spare battery for my lens is also missing. I didn’t grab it—it was the middle of the night. I switch the lens off to conserve power.
I need to get back. The first step is to get out of this room; he’s locked me up in some sort of guest room with the bed I woke up on, a lamp and a dresser as its only furniture. I open the drawers of the dresser, looking for anything that I can use to get out. Definitely a guest room. No clothes, just dusty old boxes. I open one up. Picture frames. The man who broke into my house is in them…at least, I think it’s him. In person, he had had a grizzled, frantic face. This person looked happy.
Stop thinking, I need to escape! My situation seems hopeless. The door doesn’t even have a keyhole; to get out, I would need to break the door down!
I examine the door knob again. There has to be something…There’s a screw on either side of the knob—I don’t have my screwdriver, but there might be something in the boxes.
The next one contains holiday lighting and some coils of wire. Miscellaneous junk in the next three (nothing useful). The sixth box holds an old computer. It doesn’t look salvageable. The final box has the clock from our mantle and a few other objects that I recognize from our living room. Drew’s watch is in there. It’s got some cartoon character on it. He’s been wearing it to school all week, thinking that it looks cool…I need to get to Drew.
I try to build an electromagnet by wrapping copper wire around the shock wire on my index finger and reconfiguring it to have a greater charge. It works, so I walk to the door and hold my magnet up to the doorknob. I hear the lock click.
I open the door, stepping carefully out. I tiptoe down the hall as I look for the exit.
A conversation stops me. Just around the corner, it seems, are a group of people. I turn and head in the other direction.
A floorboard creaks underneath me. “Who are you?” I hear someone say from behind. A feminine voice, but still not good. I run.
The end of the hall, there’s nothing, at least, nothing that looks like the front door.
I turn around, and there he is, staring dumbfounded at me. “H-how did you get out?”
“Let me leave!”
He takes a step forward. “I can’t…” He grabs my left arm and starts pulling me back to the room.
“Let me out or I’ll scream!”
It’s an effective tactic if my goal is to get slapped. He hits me twice. “Shut up, or things’ll get a lot worse.”
We’re almost to the door, so in desperation I try to stun him with my shock wire. My finger jabs at his face, and he collapses. My lens alerts me that it’s about to die. I check the time—it’s only been a few hours since I got out of bed to check the kitchen. I don’t see any doors in the hall, so I enter the dining room. Two women and a man stare at me in shock. I see the front door, and I bolt for it. None of them try to stop me.
Outside, I look around. I don’t recognize the neighborhood. Snow is falling gently, and the streetlights don’t show anyone but me. I run down the street. At the end is another road. In the distance, I see a stoplight.
I run towards it. On an instinct, I check the time on the lens, but the screen is blank—it’s already dead.  
I come up to the road; I recognize it, but it’s not anywhere near my house. With no other ideas, I stick out my thumb.
I wish I had known what was going to happen, I think, looking down at my pajamas. It would have been nice to have a coat.
Dad…I hope he’s okay. I look down at the ground. His worry for me was why he got up to investigate.
A shrill honk comes from in front of me. I look up to see a woman pulled over to the side of the street. She rolls down a window. “Is everything okay?”
“Can I get a ride with you?”
“Where do you need to go?” She asks.
“2279 Maple Boulevard; it isn’t very far.”
“Climb in.”
I get into the passenger seat. “Thank you. Can I use your phone?”
She gives me a dubious look. “I’m expecting a call.”
I try to be gentle. “…my dad’s dying.”
Her eyes widen. “Are you sure? What happened?”
“He was shot. Can I please use your phone?”
“Sure thing.” She passes me a flip phone. “Where should I be headed?”
“It’s near the mall.” I say. I dial 911 and wait while it rings.
A tired sounding man answers. “What can I do for you?”
“Someone broke into my house, and my dad’s bleeding on the floor!” I shout into the phone.
“Wait,” The man says, paying attention this time. “The person who broke in—are they still there?”
“No, but you have to come now! My dad was shot!”
I hear the man on the other side conferring with someone. “We have a team on their way; what’s your address?”
“2279 Maple Boulevard—hurry!”
I hear shouts on the other end. A female voice: “Are you hurt?”
“What? No, it’s my dad that needs help!”
“Tell me what happened.”
“I already told someone what happened!”
“I understand, but can you give us more details? We need to know.”
“There’s no time, he’s bleeding! He’s been bleeding for hours, please, listen to me!”
“We’ll be there as soon as we can. Where’s his wound?”
“I don’t know. I’m not at my house right now.” I tell the woman driving me how to get to my house, then talk to the medics more.
I run up our driveway and climb through a broken window. I run to Drew’s room…good, he’s still asleep. I rush back to dad. His blood is soaked into the carpet.
I place my fingers next to his neck. I don’t feel a pulse. I must not be checking the right spot.
I’m rushed through several more questions. While talking to them, I attach the spare battery to my lens and reset the shocker to give a small charge…mostly so that I don’t have to look at Dad bleeding.  The ambulance arrives. Drew wakes up briefly, but I send him back to his room before he sees Dad.
“Are you coming to the hospital?” A female paramedic asks me as they load my dad into the ambulance.
“I should stay and watch my brother…” I say.
“Would he like to come?”
I shake my head. “It’s fine, we’ll just stay here.”
“What about your mom?” She asks, pointing to the woman in the car.
“She’s not our mom.”
“Do you have any neighbors that you could stay with?”
I shake my head. “We’ll be fine.”
“We can’t just leave you alone.” She says. “Go get your brother, and hurry.”
I rush to Drew’s room and knock urgently. “Come on, Drew! We’ve got to go!”
I step in. He’s asleep. “Come on…”
He wakes up, and I lead him out. The woman from the ambulance is talking to the woman who drove me. “I can give you a ride if you want.” She says.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, it’s fine.”
I nod in appreciation and help Drew climb into the back of the car.
The paramedic looks at me. “Do you know his blood-type?”
“No…” I think it’s O-something, but I’m not sure, so I don’t say anything. “Is he going to be alright?”
She looks at me. Her eyes…they aren’t bored, but they aren’t fearful either. “I don’t know for certain, but if you hadn’t wrapped that towel around his wound, he—”
“What towel?”
“They found a small towel wrapped around your dad’s arm. I thought that you had put it there.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Whoever put it there, it helped to control the bleeding.” She says reassuringly. “I’ve seen many people pull through deadlier injuries; he should be fine.”
I climb into the back with Drew, and the woman starts the car. The ambulance takes off, and we follow it. When we get onto the larger streets, the ambulance’s siren sweeps traffic off to the sides; we follow in its wake.
The woman looks at me uneasily. “Do you want to…tell me what happened?”
I tell her about hearing something in the kitchen, and then rushing out to discover the thief. I describe my escape to her. She seems interested when I mention the lens, but lets me finish.
Drew is staring at me with tremendous eyes. “Dad’s okay, right?” I hug him.
A moment of silence passes. “Where’s Dad?”
“He’s going to the hospital to get better.” The woman says. “There’s a blanket in the back if it’s too cold back there.”
I grab the blanket and lay it over Drew—he seems content. He curls up in his seat, and seems to be mostly asleep.
We hit a bump. The car jumps a little.
“…You are a very brave girl. What’s your name?”
“Josephine.” I say. I see the curiosity in her eyes. “This is the lens.” I pull up my sleeve to show more of the wiring.
She glances back for a second. “You built that?!”
“Yes. I was working on it when Dad was…” I look out the window. The sun is barely visible through the snow. “What’s going to happen?”
“…Would they have taken him to the hospital if they didn’t think he would make it?” She asks. “He should be fine.”
“I hope so.” I curl up next to Drew and watch the buildings fly by. The snow curls around the wind, and the sun hides behind a cloud. All the bright color of autumn is gone—winter is here.
Ivan the Wizard

Posts : 8
Join date : 2017-01-31
Age : 18
Location : The southern coast of Faden

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